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Vitamin CVitamin C, Vitamin C (Elektra 1999) - Colleen Fitzpatrick, who records under the name of Vitamin C, makes her solo debut with Vitamin C. Mixing solid songwriting and smooth pop sensibilities, Vitamin C is a refreshing find.

Fitzpatrick hails from Old Bridge, and started as a dancer. Fitzpatrick later joined the band Eve's Plum, which recorded two albums.

Colleen FitzpatrickFitzpatrick admits that, "Madonna has definitely been an inspiration to me. She always has been able to make good pop records - but with an intensity and intelligence that also hinted there was much more going on."

That extra "going on" is apparent on Vitamin C, which was produced by Josh Deutch and Garry Hughes. Colleen wrote the bulk of the songs, although the album also includes a track written by Neal Finn ("I Got You") and "Fear of Flying," which draws from The Clash's "Magnificent Seven."

Miss CVitamin C is far more than just girl pop, though songs like "Girls Against Boys" and "Turn Me On" have a fresh pop feel. There's more of an edge to songs like "Unhappy Anniversary," yet the concluding "Graduation" has sugary high school graduation song written all over it. And listen for "Me, Myself and I," which draws in a catchy riff from Santana.

Vitamin C has a bright pop future. Look for this album.

Asleep at the WheelAsleep At The Wheel, Ride With Bob (Dreamworks 1999) - Keepers of the flame Asleep At The Wheel return with Ride With Bob, subtitled "A Tribute to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys." With 17 tracks true to Wills' brand of Western Swing, the new album provides solid musicianship, yet retains a light feel.

With 21 albums to their credit, Asleep At The Wheel has been performing for more than 25 years. Explains leader Ray Benson, "A funny thing happened on the way to the Millennium. The recent past became the present and the roots of Western Swing took a mighty hold. By the 90s it became clear that this hybrid of Western music and swing had not only survived but was a part of the fabric of modern country music."

Ray BensonRay continues. "Instead of listening to beeps and electronic sounds that the futurists predicted, some of us actually prefer the sound of real instruments played by talented and inspired musicians and the blend of human voices to the synthesized homogenized mire that is contemporary music to some."

Ray's got a point: real instruments, not just their synthesized counterparts, remain the heart of music-making. The core band in Asleep At The Wheel consists of Texas fiddler Jason Roberts, steel guitarist and dobro player Cindy Cashdollar, drummer David Sanger, pianist Chris Booher, bass player David Miller, and Michael Francis on horns.

Asleep at the WheelRide With Bob includes such Wills' favorites as "Roly Poly," "You're From Texas," and "Take Me Back to Tulsa." In addition, Benson rounded up a host of guest players and vocalists, including Dwight Yoakam ("New San Antonio Rose"), Lee Ann Womack ("Heart to Heart Talk"), and Reba McEntire ("Right or Wrong").

The musicianship and integrity come through on Ride With Bob. All the players, including the guest artists, have an affinity for this music. Give a listen to Asleep At The Wheel.

Run Devil RunPaul McCartney, Run Devil Run (Capitol 1999) - Though felled by the loss of his beloved Linda earlier this year, Paul McCartney got right back in the studio to record Run Devil Run. Recorded in just a week in March 1999, the new album finds McCartney going back to his 50s roots, with rockabilly and skiffle all over the place.

Says Sir Paul, "I'm glad that I've got back to my roots and it will reassure anyone who thinks 'Oh, he's gone all classical now,' that that is not the case. I still love by rock-n-roll."

Geraint WatkinsRun Devil Run finds Paul on vocals and bass, with David Gilmour (from Pink Floyd) on electric guitar, Mick Green (who played in Johnny Kidd & The Pirates) on electric guitar, and Ian Paice (from Deep Purple) on drums. Also providing keyboards are the talented Pete Wingfield and Geraint Watkins.

The album includes three new songs by Sir Paul, together with a collection of 50s tracks such as "Honey Hush" by Big Joe Turner, "Coquette" (an obscure Fats Domino B-side), and "Lonesome Town" (which was a hit in 1958 for Ricky Nelson).

Getting wild in the studioIn discussing the song selection, Paul says, "I got together about 25 songs that I just remembered; we hadn't done them with the Beatles, but I just liked them. My fondness for the tracks was the important thing about picking them."

Explains Paul, "Although the majority of the songs on the album are retro songs, they are not retro sounds. Chris Thomas, the producer, and I decided it would be good on this album if the retro songs could be recorded so that they could live alongside the modern stuff that is played on the radio. So we talked to Geoff Emerick, our engineer, and went for this more modern sound to the older songs."

March 1999Run Devil Run has an authentic sound, as Paul remains true to his roots. Yet there's no real spark to the album. While the recording is faithful to the rebel yells of Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and early Elvis Presley, there's no catchy splash.

I have only good things to say about Sir Paul; but Run Devil Run is an album for long-time fans.

- Randy Krbechek © 1999

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